Beyond Cognition: Broadening the Emotional Base of Motivational Interviewing

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Abstract

Motivational interviewing (MI) techniques have been described in cognitive and behavioral terms, as means to positively resolve tension created by unresolved ambivalence about change. This view of motivation is consistent with a negative reinforcement model, in which behaviors are performed to escape from negative states. In contrast, the concept of positive reinforcement involves seeking positive states through behaviors that lead toward more satisfying conditions. From this perspective, motivation involves a desire to experience positive emotions. This paper focuses on the potential role that emotions may play in MI, particularly positive emotions. The authors posit that MI elicits positive emotions of interest, hope, contentment and inspiration by inviting clients to envision a better future, to remember past successes, and to gain confidence in their abilities to improve their lives.

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